Everton welcome city rivals Liverpool to Goodison Park for the 241st Merseyside derby still searching for their first league win of the season but buoyed by a battling run of three straight draws.
Frank Lampard looks to have injected a greater resilience and fighting spirit in the Toffees side after 1-1n draws on the road at Brentford and Leeds.
Part of that is down to a busy transfer window which has seen Lampard and Kevin Thelwell rebuild the defence and midfield.
There was disappointment on deadline day that an extra forward was not added to the squad but that should not distract from what has been a largely successful summer. Remoulding the side after years of wasteful spending was always going to be a long-term project and take several windows. This summer felt like a solid first step.
Now with the window closed focus can fully turn to matters on the pitch, with Everton still seeking their first three points of the season.
Their gritty draw at Leeds last time out highlighted the battling qualities of a side so often a soft touch last season, especially away from home.
The deadline day arrivals of Idrissa Gueye and James Garner further bolsters the squad, though it remains to be seen whether they will feature on Saturday.
Though they are without a win Everton are unbeaten in three matches and there are signs the team is slowly coming together.
If there was ever a good time to get a first win it would be against the old enemy, and not before time.
2021’s Anfield victory was most welcome but it is now 12 years since the Toffees last beat Liverpool at Goodison Park, a 2-0 victory in October 2010.
Good things come to those who wait?
If Everton’s start to the season has been patchy, things are not exactly smooth across the park.
Jurgen Klopp’s side took just two points from their opening three games, including a 2-1 defeat at bitter rivals Manchester United.
Some sense of normality was restored with a 9-0 thrashing of Bournemouth, before a 98th-minute last-gasp win against Newcastle.
Still, there is still a sense that Liverpool are yet to scale the heights they have done under Klopp in recent years, not helped by a lengthy injury list.
Whisper it quietly, but if Everton are to finally beat Liverpool at Goodison they are unlikely to have a better chance.
Liverpool 2-0 Everton, April 24 2022
A low moment. Everton succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Anfield in April that left the Toffees two points adrift in the bottom three.
Burnley’s win over Wolves had dragged the Toffees into the relegation zone shortly before kick-off and despite a spirited display, second half goals from Andy Robertson and Divock Origi (obviously) secured the derby spoils for Liverpool and ensured the Toffees stayed in trouble.
Frank Lampard has confirmed new signings Neal Maupay, Idrissa Gueye and James Garner will be included in the matchday squad.
Abdoulaye Doucoure is back in training after a hamstring injury but is not yet ready to return, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is expected to return to training after a knee problem next week.
Mason Holgate (knee), Yerry Mina (ankle), Ben Godfrey (fractured fibula) and Andros Townsend are still sidelined.
What they said
Everton manager Frank Lampard: “I understand what this game means.
“I was fortunate enough to take part in a lot of London derbies, but when you’re talking about a city like Liverpool and what it means to both clubs… The city is so 50/50 and it ramps up the intensity of the game and what it means to the fans.
“It’s my first Merseyside derby at Goodison and I’m excited about that fact.
“We’ll have a home crowd behind us before the game and during the game. We have to perform with the same passion they’re going to turn up with.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “They are tight games most of the time. It’ll be a big fight and we cannot ignore that but you have to play football as well. That’s the challenge. Newcastle was perfect preparation because it was super intense and showed us what we had to expect. If didn’t know it, we know after Wednesday. The last few years I’m involved in most of these draws [8 in 10] but they were all different. They were intense, with a lot of fight.”
Just win, Everton!